The interiors of this Victorian house at 3403 Glenwood Road are a disappointing, the result of a renovation that did little to celebrate or preserve the original details. The porch won’t please purists either. All that said, however, this is a lot of house for $795,000; it also comes with a driveway and two-car garage. The house is located near the Brooklyn College campus but far enough from the fanciest parts of Victorian Flatbush to merit the relatively low asking price of $795,000.
3403 Glenwood Road [Fillmore] GMAP P*Shark
Ditmas Park Corner covered a few traffic improvements coming to the area in the summer months. The first: the Ocean Avenue entrance to Prospect Park will close next Monday, June 18th. DOT will redesign the intersection at Ocean and Parkside Avenue, generally “tightening” the intersection to reduce crossing times and increasing pedestrian visibility. You can see the DOT plan here. And secondly, the reconstruction and beautification of the Flatbush Avenue/Nostrand Avenue corridor begins next month (pictured above). Improvements to the Flatbush streetscape will include new benches, new trees, tree guards, new light posts, and improved sidewalks. Construction should last until next summer. You can see an outline of the plan here. There’s an informal meeting about the impending construction at Flatbush and Nostrand next Wednesday, June 20 at 6pm at the Crystals Bar and Lounge, 1458 Flatbush Avenue.
Ocean Ave Entrance to Prospect Park Closes to Cars on June 18 [Ditmas Park Corner]
Learn About the Junction Beautification Project [Ditmas Park Corner]
A Look at Brooklyn, then and now.
Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I used to wait for the B26 bus underneath the MTA Building on Jay and Willoughby, and spent a lot of time looking across the street at this building which, at the time, housed a men’s clothing shop. It was always well kept, with semi-circular awnings on the arched windows, and certainly looked a lot better than most of the buildings in the area. So when I came upon this photograph from 1928, in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York, I was thrilled to learn some little tidbit of the building’s past. More research would have to be done. (more…)
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Former Mardi Gras Theater, now empty
Address: 1295 Nostrand Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Clarkson Avenue
Neighborhood: East Flatbush
Year Built: 1908
Architectural Style: Tudor inspired
The story: As you may have read here in this column on numerous occasions, Brooklyn has a wealth of theaters. Some were built as grand palaces of entertainment, both live, and later, on screen, and some had more humble beginnings, and never pretended to be more than what they were, a venue for popular neighborhood entertainment, a small getaway for hard working neighborhood people. This building was the latter. Its history was short, and leaves us with this mysterious building sitting on the corner of busy Nostrand Avenue and Clarkson Street. It turns out it was the Mardi Gras Theater. (more…)
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Official name: Prospect Park Peristyle, aka Grecian Shelter, aka Croquet Shelter
Address: Parkside Avenue, across from the Parade Grounds
Cross Streets: Park Circle and Ocean Avenue
Year Built: 1905
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: McKim, Mead & White
Other Works by Architect: in Brooklyn – Brooklyn Museum, GAP Park Entrance, and other entrances and structures within Prospect Park. (Stanford White)
Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (1968)
The story: Who doesn’t love this Classical Greek inspired structure? For many people, Prospect Park begins and ends on the Park Slope side, but other parts of the park have some of the best goodies, some hidden, and some, like this shelter, in plain view. And to learn that it was designed by one of the finest architectural firms in the history of American architecture is just icing on the cake. As summer rapidly is upon us, let’s take a look at this wonderful folly on the Flatbush side of the park. (more…)
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Sears, Roebuck & Company Department Store
Address: 2307 Beverley Road
Cross Streets: Corner Bedford Avenue
Year Built: 1932
Architectural Style: Late Art Deco
Architect: Nimmons, Carr & Wright, with Alton Craft
Other Buildings by Architect: NC & W – across country, various Sears stores and private homes for Sears execs.
Landmarked: Yes, Individual landmark, designated last week! (2012)
The story: It’s hard to believe, but this store has been here for over 80 years. Sears started out in the 1890’s as a mail order catalog, selling a huge variety of goods to customers in rural areas who had little or no access to stores and shops. Their first retail store was built in 1925. Based in Chicago, Sears & Roebuck expanded all across the country, and because of Manhattan’s garment center, was a presence in NYC long before their bricks and mortar stores were in place. When they sought to expand their retail presence in the New York City area, Flatbush was seen as an ideal location. (more…)
Seeing as Marisa Tomei was the honorary chair of the Brooklyn Artists Ball at the Brooklyn Museum on Wednesday night, writer Evan Mulvihill decided to ask her whether she ever makes it back to Flatbush, her place of birth. They were in nearby Prospect Heights, after all.
Said Tomei: “Well, I do, because, you know, DiFara Pizza is, you know, one of the best pizzas in the five boroughs. But I’m sure you’ve heard! But now the word is out. [True: Grub Street covered this yesterday!] My local—now everyone goes, but I still go back.”
After the interview below, where she describes how the Brooklyn Museum shaped her childhood and more, she came up to me, unprompted, to add: “I think you were asking why they chose me, and I was thinking, I was hoping that they chose me because I’m a feminist, but they probably chose me because I’m a Brooklynite. I’m proud to say I’m both!” I told her they weren’t mutually exclusive, then sidled up to the bar to order a very dry gin martini.
Do you have any family still in the neighborhood?
No, no, no, my parents live around the corner from me in the city. [laughs] In Manhattan. [laughs] We stuck together!
Movin’ on up!
Hey! A little elitism on your part. [laughs]
What do you love about the Brooklyn Museum?
Well, I grew up coming here. My mom brought me to this museum, and also going to the free arts classes and crafty things with my very good friend Celeste. I haven’t seen her in years but I was thinking about her today.
Did you take acting classes here?
No. We did all kinds of painting and crafts classes. And Christmas too is like special things you could make for decorations for your Christmas tree. Special things for the holidays.
What’s different about the Brooklyn Museum than Manhattan museums?
The humanity in its leadership. It really is for the people. Particularly, of course I’m obsessed with the Sackler Center. And so thrilled when it opened five years ago. Celebrating women’s contribution and a place to hear women’s voices that surprisingly hadn’t been built anywhere else in the world.
Are you happy with the state of feminist art?
That sounds like a crazy trick question.
Evan Mulvihill is a freelance writer who lives in Brooklyn Heights and makes occasional jaunts to Carroll Gardens for South Brooklyn Pizza. Follow him on Twitter, Tumblr, and/or Facebook.
Photograph by Eric Weiss Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum
This morning the Daily News has a story about how some East Flatbush residents are opposed to a hotel that’s being built on East 59th Street and Foster Avenue, fearing it will attract unsavory characters: namely, drug users/sellers and prostitutes. The News says that some of the folks opposed to the build are “threatening a ‘shaming campaign’ against frequent clients” and Councilmember Jumaane Williams is drafting a resolution that would require developers to bring plans to the community board even if they are OK on the zoning front, as is case with the hotel that’s being built. One of the hotel’s developers says the project will actually improve the neighborhood: “Co-owner Danny Mehta said his business won’t be the hot-sheets hotel neighbors fear. ‘It’s going to be a nice, clean hotel,’ he said, adding the 35-room hotel would not have hourly rates. ‘They are misunderstanding.’ Much of the area is surrounded by junkyards, but Mehta cited a new BJs and Home Depot nearby as evidence it is an ‘up and coming area.’ ‘Instead of all junkyards, it’s going to be a new hotel. It’s better for that area,’ he said. “In that neighborhood family comes to visit family, and they need a room. Same thing for funerals, weddings, reunions.’” The hotel is supposed to open sometime next year and Mehta says he hopes to eventually come to an understanding with the neighbors who are opposed to the project.
Neighbors Fight New Hotel in East Flatbush They Fear Will Draw Prostitution and Drugs [NY Daily News]
Image of lounging woman via Shutterstock
Last week we had a rundown on the projects in Councilmember Brad Lander’s district that received the most votes for funding via participatory budgeting, which will receive $1 million earmarked for them in the 2013 budget. This weekend the Times had a story on the subject that included news about the other Brooklyn district that was included in the participatory budgeting experiment, that of Councilmember Jumaane Williams, whose district runs from East Flatbush to Midwood. In contrast to Lander’s district (which includes the Slope and Carroll Gardens, among other neighborhoods), which had many proposals involving educational facilities, Williams’s district was most concerned with increasing levels of security in various ways. To wit: “Security was the primary concern for Mr. Williams’s district. …The proposal that drew the most votes was a $400,000 plan for security cameras at seven locations. Residents also voted to spend $450,000 on two proposals that would add lights to each of the district’s parks and the field behind the Tilden Educational Campus, where, among the shadows, classmates of Marcus Monfiston, 16, a student there, have been attacked.” In Lander’s district, the proposal that garnered the most votes was fixing the bathrooms at P.S. 124 in Park Slope.
The Voters Speak: Yes to Bathrooms [NY Times]
Winners of Park Slope Funding Contest Announced [Brownstoner]
Screengrab via video on Tilden lighting proposal from JumaaneWilliams
Next Tuesday, April 10th, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hear a request to add a new visitor’s center at Flatbush’s Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House, the city’s oldest structure, which is now used as a museum. We spoke with a representative at the Wyckoff House who said the new building will obviously look more modern than the 17th Century structure, but the design will be very sympathetic to the original in terms of color and aesthetic. The slope of the roof on the vistors center is also similar to that of the Wyckoff House. The plan hasn’t been finalized yet with the architects and the construction timeline remains unclear. Check back here for updates on the project as it moves through Landmarks. GMAP
Photo by wati dewidisoni
This Tuesday, March 28th, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will host another public hearing on landmarking the Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Building at 2307 Beverly Road in Flatbush. The first hearing for the building was in March of last year. No vote will be taken Tuesday on its designation. Here is the full historic write-up from the LPC:
The Flatbush branch of Sears Roebuck & Company is an impressive late example of the Art Deco style. Located close to Flatbush Avenue at the southeast corner of Bedford Avenue and Beverly Road, this prominent three-story retail structure was designed by the Chicago architects Nimmons, Carr & Wright, in association with Alton L. Craft of New York City. Sears announced plans to erect a large department store in Brooklyn in March 1932 as part of a larger program to enter the New York area market. Founded as a catalogue company in the early 1890s, it did not enter the retail market until 1925. Neither the Sears Company nor Nimmons had much, if any, experience with chain store design. In the late 1920s, they gradually moved away from classicism and settled on a restrained yet stylish corporate image enlivened by Art Deco details.
We’ve all seen movies set in ancient times, where the poor, dressed in dirty rags and looking pitiful, gather around the rich coming out of the castle, and beg for “alms for the poor.” Depending on the particular plot and inclination of the movie, they sometimes get a crust of bread or a penny or two, or they get shoved away, and perhaps a swift kick from some rich lord’s bodyguards. Even the Bible tell us that the “poor shall be with you always”, and truer words were never spoken. There have always been poor people, in every culture, every time, and just about everywhere. That is certainly true throughout the history of Brooklyn, as well. What changes over the centuries is the response of the rest of society towards the poor. The poor have always been divided into two groups, the “deserving” poor, and the “undeserving” poor. Society has always been more eager to help the first group than the second, but the methods used to help have evolved over centuries.
The provision of alms has an interesting history. The giving of alms is an ancient religious tradition, followed by all of the major religions of the world. We get the English word “alms” from Old English, which traces back to Latin and Greek words meaning “merciful” and “pity.” Giving alms or aid to the poor; whether a few coins, or food and shelter, has been part of the history of civilization. But we won’t go through all that, let’s skip through the centuries to Colonial America, and thus, to Brooklyn. (more…)
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Commercial/office building
Address: 820 Flatbush Avenue
Cross Streets: Caton and Church Avenues
Year Built: 1898
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
The story: It’s unfortunate that far too often, the commercial corridors of Brooklyn seem to be so disproportionately forgotten when it comes to their architecture, some of which is quite fine. Perhaps it’s because businesses and buildings alike, changed, began and ended on these streets, with frequent tear-downs and rebuilding, so much so, that record keeping, which seems to have been a challenge here in the first place, just wasn’t kept up. Of all the buildings I’ve written about in this column, I’ve had the hardest time finding information on commercial buildings. (I should probably amend that to say that the information may be available, but it’s not on line.)Here’s another example.
While walking down Flatbush one day, this quite nice Renaissance Revival palazzo caught my attention. It’s got fine lines, with very Venetian-style arched windows on the top floor, which must have been quite stunning from the inside, when the round windows and the transoms weren’t covered up. The columns splitting the two interior windows within the arches are still very striking, and the building has great white glazed terra-cotta brickwork, the bricks within the arches arranged in a parquet floor-like basket-weave pattern. (more…)
In the aftermath of great disasters, there is always the need for assigning blame, and seeking justice. In the case of the Malbone Street Wreck, which killed at least 93 people, and seriously injured over 200 more, that need was great. The people demanded answers, and a newly elected and ambitious mayor had his own agenda.
In Parts One and Two of our story, we learned how Edward Luciano, a young train dispatcher with the Brooklyn Rapid Transit line, was pressed into service as a train motorman, when the motormen’s union called a strike, on November 1, 1918. With hurried training, and only a few hours practice, he was given a double shift driving the train, and by the time he started his second shift, here on the Brighton Line, it was dark, late in the day, and he was still inexperienced. (more…)
As any experienced train motorman will tell you, it’s not driving the train that’s hard, it’s making the stops. Brake too early, and the train stops before reaching the platform, and you have to lurch into the station. Brake too late, and you overshoot the platform and have to back up. Go too fast, and brake too late, and you are in the perfect position for disaster. This was exactly what happened to an inexperienced motorman named Edward Luciano, as he approached the Malbone Street tunnel on the Brooklyn Rapid Transit line, at 6:42 pm, on November 1, 1918. What followed was the worst transit disaster in the history of the New York City subway system, a disaster so horrific that the name “Malbone Street” became too painful a reminder of the tragedy, and the street itself was re-named Empire Boulevard. We began the story in the last Walkabout. Here’s what happened that fateful day: (more…)
When I first came to New York, in 1977, I was fascinated by the subway. It is, after all, the lifeblood of the city, coursing along its arteries, from the head of the Bronx, through the body of Manhattan, to the limbs of Brooklyn, and Queens. Even though I was introduced to the trains at probably the worst time in their history, it was still a magical conveyance that could take you anywhere. Every car was covered in graffiti, and the heat, or the fans never worked, in the days before air conditioning, but still…New York! I was very taken by the different lines, the names and numbers, and the beauty that you could still see in the older stations, so I bought a book on the history of the subway system, and that was my first introduction to the story about the worst subway disaster in New York’s history; the Malbone Wreck. I didn’t live in Brooklyn at the time, so I had no idea where Malbone Street was. When Brooklyn became my home, and its streets became very familiar to me, the story resonated even more. If you aren’t familiar with what happened, and don’t know where Malbone Street is, don’t worry. You aren’t clueless. Malbone Street itself died with the nearly one hundred people who perished in the trains that horrible day, long ago in 1918. Today it is known as Empire Boulevard. (more…)
A Look at Brooklyn, then and now.
The most amazing thing about a city like Rome, Italy, is that you can find a modern office building next door to a Renaissance palazzo, next door to a Roman ruin. The layers of civilization in an ancient city like Rome are so unlike what we have here, where the difference between neighboring buildings is usually no more than a couple of generations, a hundred years at best. Here in New York City, we don’t build next to the past; we usually build on top of it. That’s part of the reason why a column like this can be so interesting, what’s past is long gone and rubble, most of the time. This time, it’s slightly different. (more…)